REVIEW: The Wonder (2022)

Florence Pugh, right, in Sebastián Lelio’s THE WONDER — PHOTO: Aidan Monaghan / NETFLIX.

Directed by Sebastián Lelio — Screenplay by Emma Donoghue, Alice Birch, and Sebastián Lelio.

General audiences are unlikely to see an opening shot as surprising or even mystifying as the opening shot in Sebastián Lelio’s The Wonder. If you go in knowing that you are about to watch a period drama set in the 1800s, then you’re going to raise your eyebrows when you see what awaits you. Lelio’s first shot shows an empty film set warehouse and a scaffolded house that likely contains a principal set for the film. A female voice sets the mood by way of an absorbing and mysterious narration that emphasizes how the characters in the story cling to and fully believe the stories they tell. As the camera glides into a set containing Florence Pugh in-character, the film begins properly. It is a showy opening that is effective in underlining the questionable reality of the stories we ourselves gather around a television — or inside a theater — to watch, and, even though this framing device is a narrative-breaking technique (not its only fourth wall-breaker in the film) that isn’t wholly unique (just see last year’s HBO Scenes From A Marriage remake), it absolutely is an opening that takes your hand and asks you to partake in the story’s mystery. I think you should accept the offer and the instruction to buy into what you’re seeing.

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REVIEW: The Good Nurse (2022)

Eddie Redmayne and Jessica Chastain in THE GOOD NURSE — PHOTO: Netflix / JoJo Whilden.

Directed by Tobias Lindholm — Screenplay by Krysty Wilson-Cairns.

Like the many films with the word ‘American’ in the title (American Sniper, American Gangster, American Ultra, American Hustle, American Pie, etc.), films or shows with ‘Good’ in the title are a dime a dozen. The Good Dinosaur, The Good Wife, The Good Doctor, and so on and so forth. Let’s just say that Tobias Lindholm’s The Good Nurse has a very generic title. I’d love to be able to say that the film isn’t like that. But, honestly, it is a fairly generic but ‘okay’ film that somehow has a great cast, director, and screenwriter.

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REVIEW: Mr. Harrigan’s Phone (2022)

Donald Sutherland in John Lee Hancock’s Mr. Harrigan’s Phone — PHOTO: Netflix.

Directed by John Lee Hancock — Screenplay by John Lee Hancock.

At the time of writing, we are now in October, which means that, for a lot of people, it’s time to focus on horror and Halloween. Streamers such as Netflix have to cater to that crowd, and one of the ways that they are doing that this year is by releasing yet another Stephen King adaptation. Netflix has actually been a pretty decent home for these adaptations, as it has previously released such King adaptations as In The Tall Grass, 1922, and Gerald’s Game, with the last one being easily the best of the Netflix-King films. Like In the Tall Grass and 1922, Mr. Harrigan’s Phone is based on one of King’s novellas, and, like those other two films, while there are things I really like about the film, I think there are a couple of things about it that make it difficult to recommend to general horror fans.

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REVIEW: I Came By (2022)

Hugh Bonneville in Babak Anvari’s crime-thriller I CAME BY — PHOTO: Netflix.

Directed by Babak Anvari — Screenplay by Babak Anvari & Namsi Khan.

The British-Iranian filmmaker Babak Anvari burst onto the scene with his wildly impressive feature-length directorial debut, Under The Shadow, a terrific but underseen psychological horror film that was selected as the British entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 89th Academy Awards. Widely praised, it was a good springboard for Anvari, but his follow-up film, Wounds starring Armie Hammer, represented “a disappointingly severe sophomore slump” for Anvari. When his third effort, I Came By, which, like his previous two efforts, was released on Netflix in my region, it was without much fanfare. To me, it almost felt like it was being hidden, which concerned me. In my review of Wounds, I noted how I really wanted “to see [Babak Anvari] make a triumphant return with a film that is as brilliant and promising as I thought [Under The Shadow] was.” So, did I get what I want? Eh, not really. It’s not a recommendation, but, admittedly, it is better than Wounds.

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REVIEW: Kærlighed for Voksne (2022)

Dar Salim plays Christian, a cheating husband, in LOVING ADULTS — Photo: NETFLIX.

Directed by Barbara Rothenborg — Screenplay by Anders Rønnow Klarlund and Jacob Weinreich.

As a Dane, I’d love to be able to say that each and every Danish film is a must-watch. But that definitely wouldn’t be true. Not every Danish film is as good as Another Round, Riders of Justice, Queen of Hearts, or Speak No Evil — to name just a few of the recent Danish hits. Now that Netflix has started to produce Danish films, one would hope that their presence in the Danish film industry would be a really good thing. It could be. It’s certainly offering new opportunities for Danish filmmakers. But based on Toscana, Against the Ice, and now Kærlighed for Voksne (int. title: Loving Adults) it is becoming clear that the streamer is having a difficult time making truly memorable Danish films. Kærlighed for Voksne doesn’t work.

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REVIEW: Better Call Saul – “Nippy”

The following is a recap and review of the tenth episode of the sixth and final season of Better Call Saul, available on AMC in the U. S. and on Netflix internationally. Expect story spoilers.

In the tenth episode of the sixth season of Better Call Saul — titled Nippy — “Gene” (played by Bob Odenkirk) tries to convince someone to take part in a con job with a very brief time window. Nippy was written by Alison Tatlock and directed by Michelle MacLaren.

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REVIEW: Better Call Saul – “Fun and Games”

The following is a recap and review of the ninth episode of the sixth and final season of Better Call Saul, available on AMC in the U. S. and on Netflix internationally. Expect story spoilers.

In the ninth episode of the sixth season of Better Call Saul — titled Fun and Games — Mike (played by Jonathan Banks) meets with Nacho’s father, while Kim (played by Rhea Seehorn) makes a definitive decision about her future. Fun and Games was written by Ann Cherkis and directed by Michael Morris. The episode is dedicated to Julia Clark Downs.

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REVIEW: Better Call Saul – “Point and Shoot”

The following is a recap and review of the eighth episode of the sixth and final season of Better Call Saul, available on AMC in the U. S. and on Netflix internationally. Expect story spoilers.

In the eighth episode of the sixth season of Better Call Saul — titled Point and Shoot — Lalo Salamanca (played by Tony Dalton) demands that Jimmy McGill (played by Bob Odenkirk) or Kim’s (played by Rhea Seehorn) must kill Gus Fring (played by Giancarlo Esposito). Point and Shoot was written by Gordon Smith and directed by series co-creator Vince Gilligan.

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REVIEW: Better Call Saul – “Plan and Execution”

The following is a recap and review of the seventh episode of the sixth and final season of Better Call Saul, available on AMC in the U. S. and on Netflix internationally. Expect story spoilers.

In the seventh episode of the sixth season of Better Call Saul — titled Plan and Execution — Jimmy McGill (played by Bob Odenkirk) and Kim’s (played by Rhea Seehorn) smear campaign against Howard Hamlin (played by Patrick Fabian) plays out for all to see. Also, Lalo Salamanca (played by Tony Dalton) finally returns to Albuquerque. Plan and Execution was written and directed by Thomas Schnauz.

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REVIEW: Better Call Saul – “Axe and Grind”

The following is a recap and review of the sixth episode of the sixth and final season of Better Call Saul, available on AMC in the U. S. and on Netflix internationally. Expect story spoilers.

In the sixth episode of the sixth season of Better Call Saul — titled Axe and Grind — Jimmy McGill (played by Bob Odenkirk) and Kim (played by Rhea Seehorn) continue with their plan to ruin Howard Hamlin (played by Patrick Fabian) and get an early Sandpiper case payout. Elsewhere, Lalo Salamanca (played by Tony Dalton) tracks down one of Werner Ziegler’s colleagues. Axe and Grind was written by Ariel Levine and directed by Giancarlo Esposito, who made his television directorial debut with this episode.

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